Health Watch: Cough drops to fight COVID-19

A single cough or sneeze can send hundreds of virus particles that may carry the coronavirus into the air.

"If we could reduce the amount of droplets that are sustained in the air, I think it would be an effective measure," explained Michael Kinzel, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.

Is a cough drop the answer? This team is developing a product similar to a cough drop that can thicken saliva particles and make them heavier when released during a cough or sneeze.

"Then they will tend to fall down rather than transmit to the next person," Kinzel clarified.

Using high-speed cameras, they use over-the-counter ingredients to test which will work best for their cough drop.

"Corn starch or peanut flour or agar agar, for example. These are good thickeners," explained Kareem Ahmed, PhD assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.

The team expects their cough drop to last about 20 to 40 minutes for a trip to a grocery or a short flight. They also say the combination of their cough drop and a mask could decrease the space needed between people.

"It could bring the distance down to two feet, about a third of the CDC's guideline distance," Ahmed shared.

"Have people interact with each other more," Kinzel concluded.

And bring back a little normalcy.

The team is hoping to make this product available to the public by the end of this year. They received a $200,000 National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research award to make that possible.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.
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